School board revises its job wish list
After discussing the superintendent's job description for more than three hours, the Baldwin Board of Education and district administrators nearly completed their list of requirements for future candidates Tuesday night.
"I hope it was beneficial, because if it wasn't, we wasted a lot of time," School Board President Lonnie Broers said. "I think we got a good job description that the board and administrators know where it came from and how it was established. That's helpful."
The group met in a special work session in the District Office to tweak the current job description while reviewing the Kansas Association of School Board's version.
"I think it was good for us to revisit our current job description," Board Member Ande Parks said. "We are trying to line up with what might lead us in the right direction."
The board and administrators agreed that most items on the two lists were similar, but a few were confusing and needed explanation from KASB.
"We are going to run some things by KASB and make sure we are not stepping on anything that is going to be a legal issue, since none of us at this table are lawyers," Parks said.
The group first had to decide which job description it would use officially and which would be the reference. The KASB was chosen as the main one and the district's version would help fill in some gaps.
"I think it's a good guide for you to give you some direction," Curriculum Director Connie Wehmeyer said.
Parks said the reason for choosing the KASB policy was simple.
"I think when you haven't been throughout this process in a while, there is a natural tendency to not revisit things," Parks said. "KASB has a great resource and they are constantly updating their process. I think it makes sense for us to resort to that for some guidance."
Then the process of figuring out which guidelines were similar on both policy manuals was next. Along with simplifying the essential job functions, the group considered prioritizing the duties.
The idea of prioritizing the functions was shortly debated before being tossed out, because all of the duties are important.
"Starting out they are all equal and action will dictate their priority," Board Member Scott Lauridsen said of the job functions.
Then they began looking at each general task to see if it was needed or to see if the wording needed changed.
One topic that was briefly discussed was whether discipline should be included in the section about overseeing safe and orderly schools.
Connie Wright, Baldwin Junior High School principal, suggested the board not include discipline.
"I'd be careful what you say about discipline with KASB, because if you say you will do something but don't do it, you could be in trouble," Wright said. "I wouldn't put anything about discipline in the job description."
Board Member Ruth Barkley decided that was the wisest choice.
"I would say we tread lightly there and not be too specific," Barkley said.
Another discussion topic dealt with trying to figure out how monitoring the student transportation system differed from health and safety of students.
This item seemed vague to many of the board members, but Board Member Blaine Cone gave her explanation.
"It is his or her responsibility to contact the parents and students when it is unsafe to be in school, whether that be walking, riding a bike or taking the bus," Cone said.
The group decided to ask KASB for clarification on the job function.
After accepting most of the other duties, Lauridsen thought the board should add one more duty to the superintendent's list.
"I'd like to see us add a leadership program to our district for teachers or administrators that want to move up in their career," Lauridsen said.
Wright said she has been through a couple of those and they were very beneficial.
"I think they are very helpful, but they are available to us now through different programs," Wright said.
So the group decided to add the duty to the list to plan and promote leadership development programs for staff.
They also added the superintendent should promote the interest of the district in all levels of government.
The final discussion point was about Lauridsen's administrative alignment proposal he brought up at the board meeting Dec. 12. The group decided this should not be included in the job description, but would serve a better purpose during interviews.
"We are not going to include that in the job description," Broers said. "It won't really be necessary until we start interviewing applicants. We want to make the applicants aware that we want to change responsibilities."
After the meeting, Parks expressed his opinion about what he is looking for in a new leader for the district.
"I think it's important that we have somebody who can be passionate when they are out in the community about what we are trying to do and what we need to do to make our goals happen," Parks said.